Sometimes I have a bad day. I know, amazing, but true. It doesn’t even have to be a big deal, like flood, fire, or famine, to get me feeling off-kilter. Sometimes it is a passion I have that doesn’t seem to be shared. Sometimes it is injustice. Sometimes I just feel tired, and sad, and frustrated.
And I’m learning that this is ok.
I fall into that category of people who cope by stuffing emotions deep down inside. Truthfully, emotions are powerful and sometimes that power feels dangerous. Letting emotions out can seem like a lack of control or a loss of the ability to process through things logically. Coping mechanisms are great for life or death situations, but most of my life doesn’t take place on a literal battlefield.
As a positive, the ability to set aside emotion for a time to handle crises with a cool head is awesome. I have kept my cool while driving loved ones to the hospital. I have faced down angry people who would have only fed on any emotional energy I allowed to escape. I have been able to get through some tough personal and professional challenges without falling apart. My coping skills are great.
But when we function in non-emergent situations like they are life or death, when we walk through life on high alert, our coping skills become barriers that keep others at bay. If I shut down my emotions, it can take some time to open back up to process them. If I walk around without feeling while interacting with my kids, or my husband, or the people I am in ministry with, I become a hard stone wall. Inflexible.
Vulnerability is crucial to building relationships and community. If I can’t open up about my experiences, my feelings, my needs, then no one ever gets to know the real me. I have walled myself off from anyone who could help me build other skills or who have their own wisdom to contribute to the challenges I face.
Giving myself permission to feel–even on bad days–is my key to unlocking the gates, and bringing down the walls.
I am not perfect. (Another blog for another day!) I need other people to walk through life. Defenses are great when you are under attack, but for all of the other situations I face on all the other days, those walls just get in the way.
Truth & Honesty.
Now that’s ReFreshing.